Business Concept Competition
The business concept competition focuses on the development and validation of new business models for generating revenue and profit. Students can compete by pitching in person at one of our sites or by submitting a video pitch in one of our virtual tracks.
Rules and Judging Criteria
General Rules: Business Concept Competition
- Written business concept submissions are strictly limited to 5 pages, not including a cover page. If a submission exceeds this limit, only its first 5 pages will be evaluated. Submission must maintain 1–inch (2.54 cm) margins and use 12-point font.
- Video and in-person pitches are strictly limited to 5 minutes. In-person pitches may also include up to 3 minutes of questions and answers with a judging panel. Responses to judges’ questions will be strictly limited to 3 minutes. For video pitches, teams may use the time in any combination of recordings and graphic/visual/audio to best convey their concept to judges.
- Teams are free to use presentation software. We do request that live pitch decks be in either PowerPoint or PDF format to ensure compatibility with all laptops. Teams may also use display boards, prototypes, and anything else they believe will enhance the impact of their presentations. They are also free to determine how many members will participate in the presentation.
- To eliminate the potential for judging bias, participants must avoid listing or disclosing the names of the schools they represent on their written submissions and during their presentations. The only allowable exception to this rule is a situation in which the school per se constitutes a critical element of the business concept. Questions about whether the school constitutes a critical element of the business concept should be directed to [email protected] prior to submission. Failure to abide by this non-disclosure rule will result in a 25 point deduction from the team’s score.
- Teams must be comprised of 2-4 high school students (9th – 12th grade/form) and one teacher or adult advisor who is in a position to provide the opportunity to participate and is broadly available. All members of a team must be actively enrolled for the duration of the Challenge and in good academic standing at their school.
- Only business concepts that have been conceived by the members of the team may be submitted to the Challenge. If a concept is being submitted that has been conceived also by members not participating in the Diamond Challenge, their names must be disclosed upon registration so as to avoid conflicts of interest among early-stage concepts. Businesses and social enterprises must not have generated more than $100,000 in total revenue prior to the submission deadline for the written concept.
- The Horn Program in Entrepreneurship’s Director and Manager, Youth Programs shall comprise the rules committee for the Diamond Challenge and serve as the final arbiters of all rules and rule clarifications. The committee reserves the right to disqualify any participants who violate these rules or the spirit of the competition. Rules questions and inquiries should be submitted to [email protected]
- Disclaimers: The Diamond Challenge includes open session presentations and external review of business concept submissions. Participation is voluntary, and as such, participants are responsible for determining whether to disclose proprietary or sensitive information in their submissions and presentations. The University of Delaware and all other partnering organizations assume no liability for accidental or voluntary disclosures of proprietary information or intellectual property.
Guidelines for Submissions & Presentations: Business Concept
Written Concepts: Written business concept submissions are strictly limited to 5 pages, not including a cover page. If a submission exceeds this limit, only its first 5 pages will be evaluated. Submission must maintain 1–inch (2.54 cm) margins and use 12-point font.
Pitches: Video and in-person pitches are strictly limited to 5 minutes. In-person pitches may also include up to 3 minutes of questions and answers with a judging panel. Responses to judges’ questions will be strictly limited to 3 minutes. For video pitches, teams may use the time in any combination of recordings and graphic/visual/audio to best convey their concept to judges.
The best preliminary round business concept submissions will tell a compelling story that provides:
(1) a profile of the typical customer;
(2) a description of the customer’s problem or point of pain;
(3) the solution you will deliver to solve the customer’s problem;
(4) an answer to the question, “Why will customers choose your solution over the competitors?” (i.e. what is your unique value proposition?);
(5) your plan for making money (describe the revenue model and what fixed and variable costs you expect, i.e. product selling price, unit cost, etc.);
(6) an overview of your team’s relevant experiences, skills, and resources;
(7) any evidence you’ve collected to validate your claims about the problem, customer, solution, unique value proposition, and revenue model.
Judging Process & Criteria: Business Concept Competition
All written business concepts and presentations (including responses to a question) will be judged based on an equal weighting of perceived feasibility and growth potential as well as taking “wow factor” into consideration.
Feasibility refers to the degree to which the concept can actually work as well as the team’s ability to execute the concept and establish a defensible position in the targeted market(s). Several issues can be expected to influence feasibility ratings, including:
- To what extent are the customer segment(s) and their problem(s) identified and validated?
- To what extent does the team’s proposed solution appear to solve the problem and deliver superior value in comparison to existing alternatives?
- To what extent are the sales process and other business model components specified, validated and financially viable?
- To what extent does the team possess the skills and resources needed to execute the model or appear likely to succeed in securing necessary talent and resources?
Growth potential refers to the likely ease with which the business can be scaled and the ultimate size (in terms of revenue and profitability) that the business may attain. Several issues can be expected to influence growth potential ratings, including:
- How large is the served available market?
- What share of the available market may ultimately be served by the business?
- To what extent does the business possess an unfair advantage that will enable it to defend its position against emerging competition?
- To what extent can the business model be quickly and efficiently scaled?
- Awarded for creativity, ingenuity, persistence, passion, storytelling and any other intangibles that are deemed likely to influence the feasibility and growth potential of the business.
U.S. and Virtual Timeline
* Exact dates may vary depending on location. To visit a specfic country’s timeline, visit our International Sites page
November 30, 2017
Jan 15, 2018*
Written submission for all participants; written AND video pitches for virtual participants.
Jan – March 2018
Preliminary Round Events*
Preliminary round events hosted at regional/national sites; top teams selected to advance to the semifinal round.
U.S. Pitch Locations
Philadelphia, PA: 1608 Walnut Street, 12th Floor, Philadelphia PA, 19103
Wilmington, DE: Delaware Technical Community College Stanton/George Campus, 300 N Orange St, Wilmington, DE 19801
Dover, DE: Delaware Technical Community College Terry Campus, 100 Campus Dr, Dover, DE 19904
Arnold, MD: Anne Arundel Community College, 101 College Parkway, Arnold, MD 21012
Danville, CA: The Athenian School, 2100 Mt Diablo Scenic Blvd, Danville, CA 94506
El Segundo, CA: The Vistamar School, 737 Hawaii St, El Segundo, CA 90245
International Pitch Locations
2018 sites announced in summer 2017
February 2, 2018
Virtual Track Semifinalists Announced
Semifinalist teams from each competition are selected to travel to University of Delaware in April.
April 12, 2018
Semifinal Round at the University of Delaware
Top teams compete in the semifinal round on the University of Delaware campus.
April 13, 2018
Final Round at the Youth Entrepreneurship Summit (YES!)
Finalist teams from each track (business and social) pitch as a featured portion of the 2017 summit.
All semifinalist teams will receive $1,000 prize awards and an invitation to travel to the University of Delaware to compete in the semifinal and final rounds for one of the business concept competition’s top prizes. Top prizes include additional funding that may be used to support the team’s venture or as scholarships for higher education.
Top Prize Awards
A package worth over $11,000 in prizes, including semifinalist award and any travel support awarded
A package worth over $7,000 in prizes, including semifinalist award and any travel support awarded
A package worth over $3,500 in prizes, including semifinalist award and any travel support awarded
Social Venture Competition
The Diamond Challenge offers two competitions – business concept and social venture. If your primary purpose is to solve a societal or environmental problem, then the social venture competition may be the right one for you.